Dendias with Gërvalla-Schwarz: “Western Balkans should look to the future, not neo-Ottomanism”

Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz Nikos Dendias

“The Western Balkans should look to the future, not the past,” Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Thursday after meeting his counterpart from the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo, Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz, during a visit to Athens.

There must be good relations with all the countries in the surrounding region, he said, adding that Europe and embracing the values of the enlightenment, such as democracy, protection of human rights and the rule of law, was the only way forward.

“It is not possible to return to the 19th century, there is no possibility of choosing the neo-Ottomanism that seems to be appearing in our wider neighbourhood,” he added.

Dendias said that Greece will always support efforts to create bridges of cooperation and peace in the region and, as the first country of the Balkans to join the EU, felt obligated to help the entire region become part of the European family.

READ MORE: General Floros ends three-day visit to Serbia.

He expressed Athens’ support for the efforts of the EU representative for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Miroslav Lajčák, whom he is due to meet in Brussels on Monday.

The foreign minister added that Greece follows a constructive approach regarding Kosovo and appealing to the sides involved to do the same “in order to find a legally binding, sustainable solution” that will help establish stability and boost the European course of the region.

Dendias also referred to the concern in Greece and the EU over the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and a worrying rise of nationalism in the area.

Gërvalla-Schwarz reported an “excellent meeting between neighbours” and referred to the prospects for cooperation in areas such as the economy, culture and science.

She noted that Kosovo was open to new investments and reported an increase in foreign direct investments and interest expressed by investors in Germany and other EU countries.

READ MORE: Church of St. Peter and Paul in Kosovo vandalised with Albanian terrorist slogan.

Gërvalla-Schwarz said the two sides had agreed to explore the possibilities for further cooperation in the energy sector, such as the TAP pipeline.

She also expressed Pristina’s desire to establish normal and diplomatic ties with “all our friends” and noted that Kosovo has been recognised by the great majority of EU and NATO countries, as well as many members of the United Nations.

The Serbian mythos finds itself in the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, where despite their courage, Serbian Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović was martyred and his forces routed by the Ottoman invaders.

Although the Serbs achieved sovereignty over the region with the downfall of the Ottoman Empire, the region had already become an Albanian majority on Ottoman orders to weaken Serbian identity and dominance in the region.

READ MORE: The Cham Issue: How Albania turned Nazi collaborators into victims.

Kosovo became an autonomous region of Serbia after the establishment of socialist Yugoslavia in the aftermath of World War Two and retained its Albanian-majority.

The 1990’s proved this was always a weak point of Serbia.

With the U.S. sponsoring the violent destruction of Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s, the status of Kosovo was left unresolved, culminating in the terrorist-led war against the Yugoslav state (in which Serbia was the successor of) in 1999.

The terrorist ethnic-Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (UÇK), with the backing of NATO and the Albanian Republic, defeated Yugoslav forces.

The United Nations and NATO assumed control of the territory, which eventually declared independence in 2008.

Since then, Kosovo under Albanian rule has become a heroin ‘smugglers paradise,’ and a hub for human trafficking, organ harvesting and arms trafficking.

READ MORE: Pristina hopes that Greece will soon recognise Kosovo.